March Begins for Invisible Children
About 18 UA students will travel to Washington D.C. Saturday to raise awareness for child conscription into the armed forces of a militant group operating in areas of Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Saturday afternoon, these UA students will join more than 11,000 people in a march around the White House as part of a campaign by Invisible Children, a nonprofit group whose mission is to end the enlistment of child soldiers into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), rebel regime commanded by warlord Joseph Kony.
Invisible Children is one of many global organizations dedicated to addressing the plight of children—the tens of thousands of children associated with armed forces represent just a small portion of child suffering across the globe, according to work done by scores of relief agencies.
“The key to the LRA’s continued survival has been the kidnapping of children who are conscripted into their ranks, a number that has reached over 30,000 according to UN reports,” Invisible Children reported.
However, child conscription into armed forces is not limited to just the LRA.
Estimated tens of thousands of girls and boys find themselves fighting adult wars in at least 17 countries in different regions around the world, according to the International Labour Organization, a branch of the UN.
Invisible Children gained international attention earlier this year when they published “KONY 2012,” one of the most viral videos to ever hit the web, with more than 93 million views since March.
Bailey Cox, a UA sophomore studying Arabic, International Relations and Middle East Studies, worked for Invisible Children as a regional representative and event coordinator from August 2010 until March 2012, she said.
Cox will be attending the first ever global summit on the LRA Friday, leaders from the conflict area and other global institutions will attend.
“The group of us from Ark.who will be attending space event will be partaking in a number of lobby meetings with Sen. Boozman, Sen. Pryor and Representative Womack,” Cox said. “We are going to hold our leaders accountable for their previous commitments in stopping the LRA violence. The LRA is an international issue and it warrants an international response.”
“Invisible Children has harnessed the ability to unite young people across the world to rally for justice, specifically on the LRA issue,” Cox said. “Awareness and action go hand in hand, and IC is incredible at stringing the two together so that we all have a role to play.”
With about 45 students, the UA’s Invisible Children chapter’s mission is to help Invisible Children achieve their goal to end LRA atrocities, according to their website.
Attending the march was the natural thing to do after energizing a huge group of people, said Flannery Wasson, president of the UA chapter.
“KONY 2012 wasn’t just a documentary, it’s a yearlong campaign. Step one was making him famous and obviously, the most viral video on the internet is pretty famous, and step two was acting on that,” Wasson said. “Actions speak louder than words, so we knew we had to make it to DC and represent Arkansas and lobby our Congressmen. Kony hasn’t stopped, so we aren’t stopping either.”
UA students will be carpooling in four cars for the 20-hour drive. They will leave Friday and will sleep on the floor of a convention center in Maryland before heading to Washington D.C Saturday morning.
Invisible Children has promised floor space to sleep for every person or group registered, Friday night only, according to their website.
“The event is free, either buy or make a KONY 2012 shirt and print your ticket is all they ask,” Wasson said. “Invisible Children has been wonderful in contacting most everyone who signs up. People are driving across the country, picking people up along the way, and using twitter hashtags to meet up at random Waffle Houses all the way to DC.”